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RE: Ammonite colouration (was Re: SVP Preview)

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
Bill Hunt
Sent: Monday, September 30, 2002 8:11 PM
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Cc: dannj@alphalink.com.au
Subject: Re: Ammonite colouration (was Re: SVP Preview)

Hello All

    I've been lurking on this list for a loooong time, but haven't posted
anything for a couple of years at least.  (We've been building a timberframe
home in Northern Colorado.)

   Yeah, yeah I know it isn't about dinosaurs, but I'm just an old Marine
Biologist turned Sculptor and I'm responding to this post about Ammonites.
I figure if I'm going to jump in here I'd better post something I know
something about.  I am facinated by and I've been sculpting Dinosaurs as
well, and I've learned a lot by lurking on this list.  (I'm sculpting
Coelacanths, Pterosaurs and Pleistocine  Mammals too among other things)

     I've seen some beautiful Ammonites recently, at the Black Hills
Institute and other places and they seem to come in a wide variety of colors
including red.  But the most striking thing about them is that some of them
retain the pearlesence or mother of pearl quality as well as the bright

The mother of pearl is the undercoating (so to speak) of the 'shell'. In
real life you wouldn't be able to see it. In real life the shell would be a
duller color, maybe white, red, brown, green?, stripped? Etc. I've talked to
Neal Larson and others about this. Like you, I'm an artist so I want to get
it right.

>>As for the flesh of modern cephalopods, it's true, there is no
pigment in the flesh itself.  However Cephalopods have cells within the
tissue called chromataphores and these contain pigments.  The animal can
constrict or expand these chromataphores thereby changing the color of the
animal instantly.  This seems to be connected with the emothinal state of
the animal; fear, rage, lust, contentment, etc.  I'm sure you've seen
octopus go from deep red to blanch and back to the color of the substrate.
Squid can ripple with color  and cuttlefish can match their background so
quickly that they seem to dissappear in front of your eyes.   So I wouldn't
be suprised if Ammonites had this capability too, although it's impossible
to know since this all takes place within the soft tissue.  -  Bill Hunt<<

Considering Ammonites were basically, octopi that lived in shell, your more
than likely correct and artist who do ammonites should take this into
I love watching cuttlefish. They really seem to be trying to communicate
with you...

Bill & Rebecca Hunt
Hunt Wildlife Studios
119 Bierstadt Ct
Livermore,  CO  80536
e-mail;  bill@huntstudios.com
Web;  http://www.huntstudios.com

Another web site to add to my lists...Don't be a stranger on the list...

Tracy L. Ford
P. O. Box 1171
Poway Ca  92074